Friday, June 07, 2019

From Ian:

Khaled Abu Toameh: The Priorities of Palestinian Leaders
Let us consider some of those "other priorities...." Last week, Palestinian sources revealed that the ministers of the Palestinian Authority government have given themselves a $2,000 raise in their monthly salary... at a time when the Palestinian leadership is claiming that it is suffering from a financial crisis.

Hardly a day passes without another Palestinian reported killed in Syria. The latest victim died under torture in a Syrian prison last week. The victim's family has requested that his name not be published out of concern for their lives... His death brings to 606 the number of Palestinians who died under torture in Syrian prisons in the past eight years.

When was the last time a senior Palestinian official talked about the torture and arrest of Palestinians in an Arab country? They really don't have the time: they are too busy condemning Israel and the US administration to take note of the fact that thousands of their people are being killed, displaced and tortured in Arab countries.

Palestinian ministers take yet more money for themselves from the pockets of their own people. Hamas leaders are obsessed with gagging anyone who dares to call them out for their violent and despotic behavior.... This is the Palestinian leadership in action. When, one might ask, might we see some reaction on the part of the international community and media?

David Singer: Netanyahu will be Israel’s next Prime Minister – with Trump’s help
These results should become more pronounced after voters evaluate the outcome of the Conference to be co-hosted by President Trump and Bahrein in Manama on 25/26 June to be attended by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar – with Egypt, Jordan and Israel (represented by Netanyahu’s caretaker Government) and other regional Arab states expected to also attend.
The US State Department has confirmed the Conference will go ahead notwithstanding Israel’s snap elections in September.
Add to this the likely possibility that before the September elections:
- Trump could recognise Israel’s political claims to sovereignty in Judea and Samaria (West Bank) as he did in the Golan Heights prior to the April elections
- There could be further terror attacks against Israel from Gaza and the West Bank followed by swift Netanyahu-directed responses

Trump has already pronounced his feelings on Israel’s September elections:
- “Bibi got elected. Now, all of a sudden, they’re going to have to go through the process again until September? That’s ridiculous.”

Netanyahu – based on the April 2019 election results and Trump’s anticipated pro-Israel decisions – is odds-on favourite to be Israel’s next Prime Minister.

(Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades.
Melanie Phillips: Israeli judges should be put back in their box
As Sumption has said: “It is the proper function of the courts to stop governments exceeding or abusing their legal powers. But allowing judges to circumvent parliamentary legislation or review policy decisions for which ministers are answerable to parliament confers vast discretionary power on a body of people who are not constitutionally accountable to anyone for what they do.”

This is essentially the problem that Shaked was attempting to tackle. Ever since the 1990s when Aharon Barak headed the Supreme Court, the Israeli courts have plunged more deeply into judicial activism than even their British counterparts.

Barak wanted to turn the court into the most powerful branch of government; and because his allies controlled the committee that appointed the judges and dominated the legal establishment, he did so, greatly expanding the definition of cases that could be brought to court by granting “standing” to anyone contesting pretty well anything the government had done. The legal bar of “unreasonable” actions was lowered to include any policy of which the judges disapproved.
When the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom was passed in 1992, Barak exaggerated its constitutional significance.

Israel doesn’t have a written constitution. Its basic laws state that Knesset legislation cannot contradict them. That does not give the courts the power to strike down such legislation. Yet that’s what the Israeli Supreme Court has been doing, striking down 18 such laws since 1992.

Another development has been particularly sinister.

IN 1993, Rabin was taken to court after he ignored advice by the attorney-general to fire two government members who had been indicted. The Supreme Court ruled that Rabin had to obey the attorney-general – even if he got the law wrong – because he interpreted the law on behalf of the government.

Since then, ministers have legal advisers who are subordinate to the attorney-general to make sure ministers don’t do anything the courts don’t like. If ministers are challenged in court, they will find themselves in the Orwellian predicament that their own legal advisers – their supposed champions – will in fact speak for the case against them.

To curb all these excesses, Shaked appointed “conservative” judges – i.e., those who actually adhere to the principles of justice and democracy. This has produced some startling developments.



B’Tselem and Truth: The NGO definitely has a Problem
The Battle - based on the al-Qassam Brigades narrative

On August 21, 2014, all five Quasamis were engaged in battle with the Israeli Defense Forces. They were stationed in one of the eastern nodes of the Shja’eah neighborhood.
Before Operation Protective Edge began, because of the increasing escalation and the likelihood of an Israeli incursion, they all went to an “advanced combat complex” east of Shja’eah. They were stationed there in anticipation “of any emergency”.
On 7/21/14, the five Quasamis engaged with the Sayeret Matkal, the IDF’s special reconnaissance unit, as the IDF Special Forces advanced east of the Shja’eah neighborhood. The Sayeret Matkal is the Israeli equivalent of the United States Delta Force.
In this battle, fought near the al-Tawfiq mosque, the Quasamis barricaded themselves in a house which was targeted by a F16 that resulted in their martyrdom.

The Ending - based on the B’Tselem narrative

The bodies of the five al-Qassam Brigades operatives were found in four different locations:
The two Shamaly brothers were found in their family home, killed along with their parents.
Amr Abdel Hakim Sheikh Khalil was killed at home, his body was found in his house.
Ibrahim Kamal Abu Ajwa was killed at home, his body was found in his house, six days later.
Shaher Khamis Abu Halima’s body is found at an undisclosed location in the Shja’eah neighborhood.

Closing Comment
Five soldiers go off to war, die in combat together barricaded in the same house. Then, according to B’Tselem, the story changes and four of the five are said to have been found dead in their own homes, apparently ‘homebound’, never having left their houses, killed by the [cruel] IDF while they were defending their homes and families.

This tale reveals a pervasive pattern in the B’Tselem database, a pattern that misrepresents how terror operatives die. Is it Palestinian propaganda or simply tales from the Twilight Zone?
An ancient village that never existed
The Palestinian Authority, aided by the European Union, is taking control of a strategic area in the heart of the Gush Etzion bloc, between Highway 60 and Neveh Daniel. Over the past two years, the P.A. has created, out of thin air, a “historic” village – that just so happens to be located on a strategic point adjacent to the Jerusalem-Hebron highway. The name given to this new “ancient” village: Shoshkhalah.

Yishai Hemo, Judea and Samaria field coordinator for NGO Regavim, describes the methodology: “Over the course of the past two years, activists from the Arab town of Al Khader, backed by P.A. and European Union funding, occupied the ruins of two ancient shomerot (watchman’s huts) – primitive stone structures used by passing shepherds or farmers as shelter from the elements – that dot the landscape in the Jerusalem and Sataf areas. They renovated these abandoned structures and turned them into homes – and from that point, in very short order, totally new structures have been added in the surrounding area.”

The signs posted on the refurbished buildings, proudly bearing the European Union emblem, explain that the site is an ancient village – Shoshkhalah – despite the fact that aerial photos paint a completely different picture: In the past two years, more than 15 homes have been built in this “village,” each connected to solar power infrastructure and water tanks paid for by the Europeans. Analysis of aerial photos from 1967, as well as historic maps dating back to 1880, prove that there was never any settlement of any kind at the site.

“This is another phase in the PA-European Union program to seize control over strategic areas,” says Hemo.


Ex-Mossad official: All of EU seeks Israeli intelligence cooperation
European Union countries push hard to obtain Israeli intelligence cooperation because “they recognize our abilities,” former top Mossad official Haim Tomer said on Wednesday.

Discussing intelligence cooperation with foreign countries at the Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center in Tel Aviv, the former director of the Mossad’s foreign intelligence cooperation, Tevel, said that different political agendas between the EU and Israel did not harm intelligence cooperation.

Rather, he said that “the secrecy of the intelligence world allows cooperation separate from what goes on at the political” level.

At the same time, though generally Israeli-US intelligence cooperation has been considered excellent throughout recent US administrations, Tomer said there were some occasional limits on the Iran issue once the Obama administration made the move for a deal with Tehran.

Once a deal became a substantial possibility, “it became a problem sharing [related] intelligence with the US without things getting mixed with politics.”

Next, Tomer was asked about former CIA director Michael Hayden’s statement that though the US and Israel cooperated in using the 2009-2010 Stuxnet computer virus against Iran’s nuclear program, that at one point Israel went beyond what was agreed, creating tension between the two.

Asked about Hayden’s comments, Tomer acknowledged that on some of these kinds of issues “There were different ideas” between Israel and the US about what direction to move in and that Hayden’s retrospective comments “somewhat encapsulate” the tensions.

Still, Tomer said that the cooperation “got results.”
Kushner Confronts Palestinians With the Truth
Asked in an interview whether he believes the Palestinians are capable of governing themselves, US senior presidential adviser Jared Kushner said, “That’s a very good question. That’s one that we’ll have to see. The hope is that over time they can become capable of governing.” Kushner’s words are raising a storm among Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders.

When asked whether he understands why the Palestinians do not trust him, Kushner replied: “I am not here to be trusted.” He added that he believed the Palestinians would judge the Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan based on if they think it “will allow them to have a pathway to a better life or not.”

Kushner refused to say whether the US peace plan would include the two-state solution.

“I do think they [the Palestinians] should have self-determination. I’m going to leave the details until we come out with the actual plan,” Kushner said.

In response, senior PLO official Saeb Erekat called on the Arab countries to boycott Kushner.

“He pays no attention to the Palestinians and has isolated himself from having any role in the peace process. Once again, I call on the Arab brothers not to talk to the group of settlers [Kushner, US Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt, and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman] who are planning on helping the settlers flourish on our backs,” Erekat said.

Jared Kushner did not hesitate to put the truth right the Palestinians’ face. This despite the Palestinians’ unyielding demands for a Palestinian state inside the 1967 lines, with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.
Palestinians prep to spite themselves… again
Such an approach accords with the Palestinian belief that Israel’s birth was a sin. It also imposes an increasing cost on Israel over time.

And the PA’s leaders have seen some success in this effort with the Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement, their joining the International Criminal Court, receiving some member-state-like perks in the UN General Assembly and working through the unconscionably biased UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to declare Jewish heritage sites as Palestinian.

Add it all up and it leaves the PA wedded to the status quo. Its leaders will likely remain impervious even to the kind of “outside-in” pressure from Arab leaders in the region that Team Trump may be hoping for to push its peace plan. Recall that Clinton relied on such pressure, too, when he had Bandar nudge Arafat in 2001.

It doesn’t even seem to matter if the Palestinian people themselves would now accept the 2000-01 peace deal. Jared Kushner’s recent attempt to tell Palestinians directly that they shouldn’t allow their grandfather’s conflict to determine their children’s future may have fallen on deaf ears.

Unfortunately, PA leaders appear convinced that time is on their side, and that belief prevents them from rising to the occasion to secure a better future for their people. Fact is, the economic workshop in Bahrain is yet another opportunity for Palestinians to seize the moment and make progress, but as Abba Eban would say, it will likely be another opportunity missed.

Those who profess to be pro-Palestinian, should do all they can to ensure the success of the gathering and, most important, push PA leaders to get on board, rather than bolstering their contention that continued obstruction will somehow, one day pay future dividends. Getting Palestinians to reject the idea of an endless standoff is a first step toward an Israeli-Palestinian deal.
Israel prevents Hamas-affiliated group from receiving UN status
Israel's Mission to the UN led a diplomatic effort to prevent a Hamas–aligned group called "The Palestinian Association for Human Rights - Witness" from receiving a prestigious status at the UN.

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on Thursday granted a special UN status to several global NGOs, a step that would enable these organizations to advise the UN in various fields and take part in its activities.

Some 236 NGOs were granted this status on Thursday. Among those who applied for the special status, there was a Palestinian organization registered in Lebanon under the name "Witness," which allegedly promotes the rights of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.

Its stated goals, as they appear in the organization's website, are: "Improving the living conditions of the Palestinian refugees," "defining the rights of the Palestinian refugees and protecting it," "promoting the culture of the children's rights among the Palestinian community of refugees in Lebanon," and "giving the Palestinian youth and children the needed attention and meeting their demands."

But according to Israel, this organization was, in fact, a Hamas-aligned group. Last March, Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Benjamin Netanyahu signed an order declaring "Witness" a terrorist organization in Israel.
Senators Sanders, Warren push resolution decrying PM’s West Bank annexation idea
Five Democratic senators, including the party’s deputy leader in the chamber and two leading presidential candidates, on Thursday introduced a resolution decrying any Israeli plan to annex West Bank territory, an apparent shot across the bow at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has recently spoken in support of extending Israeli law to all settlements.

“Unilateral annexation of portions of the West Bank would jeopardize prospects for a two-state solution, harm Israel’s relationship with its Arab neighbors, threaten Israel’s Jewish and democratic identity, and undermine Israel’s security,” said the non-binding resolution.

It said the “the policy of the United States should be to preserve conditions conducive to a negotiated two state solution.”

The resolution was introduced by Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Wash., joined by Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the deputy minority leader, Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Sanders and Warren were among the Democratic presidential candidates who decried Netanyahu’s pledge, before Israel’s April 9 elections, to annex all Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The elections were indecisive and Israelis go to the polls again in September, while Netanyahu remains prime minister.

The liberal Mideast policy organization J Street welcomed the resolution.

“This resolution is an important warning to the Trump administration against any attempts to encourage annexation or undercut the ultimate prospects for a two-state solution,” group president Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement.
Democrat Senators Introduce Pro-Two-State Solution Bill
Leading Senate Democrats are set to propose a bill calling for a two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What are their intentions behind the proposals? Our Shayna Estulin analyzes, Story: A group of senior Democratic US Senators on Thursday introduced a draft resolution declaring US support for the two-state solution and aiming to prohibit Israel from annexing the West Bank, as was promised by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his previous election campaign. The news comes on the heels of reports that Israel is working to thwart a bipartisan resolution upholding the US support for a two-state solution.


AIPAC and J Street back restoring funds to Israeli-Palestinian dialogue programs
An array of pro-Israel groups have backed a bipartisan bill that would seed investment in Palestinian areas and restore funding to peace dialogue programming that the Trump administration removed as a punitive measure against the Palestinians.

The bill reads in part as a rebuke to the administration for ending funding for dialogue groups last year. It also reinforces backing for a two-state solution after the Trump administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have played down the prospect of Palestinian statehood.

The bill announced Wednesday has drawn support from groups that are often at odds over peace policy, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which generally aligns with the Israeli government on security issues, and J Street and Americans for Peace Now, which have frequently criticized the Netanyahu government’s and Trump administration’s approaches to the conflict. Other groups supporting the bill include the Jewish Federations of North America and its Israel advocacy affiliate, the Israel Action Network, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, an umbrella for Jewish public policy groups.

Leading its introduction were Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., a pro-Israel stalwart who chairs the powerful US House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., a member of the committee.
New UK human rights report accuses Israel of ‘continued violations’
The British government on Thursday accused both Israel and the Palestinians of ongoing human rights abuses, in its annual report on the state of democracy and human rights across the globe.

According to the 76-page report, 2018 saw “continued violations by the Israeli government of international human rights and international humanitarian law in the context of Israel’s occupation” of the West Bank and Gaza, including an increase in settler violence.

While Israel’s “robust democracy” is acknowledged, the report expressed concern over “pressure” exerted on members of civil society who criticize Israeli policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians.

The document also expressed worries that last year’s Jewish nation-state law could “undermine” the rights of non-Jewish minorities.

At the same time, the report accused both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas of “continued human rights abuses.”

Officially entitled the “Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Annual Human Rights & Democracy Report,” the document “provides an assessment of global human rights developments in 2018 and reports on the human rights situation in the 30 human rights priority countries,” according to the British government.

Israel and the PA were placed alongside Bangladesh, Myanmar, Eritrea, Iran, Russia, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Yemen and Saudi Arabia in being accused of having questionable human rights records.
Cotler speech disrupted by pro-Palestinian activists
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators disrupted a presentation by Irwin Cotler at Concordia University on June 3, when two of them, neither of whom attend the school, got on stage holding “Free Palestine” posters.

A security guard was called in, but he stood watching from the sidelines as a third protester, also not a student, climbed on stage and proceeded to berate Cotler for allegedly failing to defend the human rights of Palestinians and refusing to criticize the “apartheid” State of Israel and its “crimes.”

A few others then joined in at the back of the De Sève Cinema in the McConnell Building and started chanting. It was all over in about 15 minutes, when the protesters left of their own accord.

The demonstration took place near the end of a daylong conference on international human rights issues, which was organized by Concordia’s Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS), the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (RWCHR), of which Cotler is the founder and chair, and other organizations.

MIGS’s executive director, Kyle Matthews, who tried to get the protesters off the stage and refused to cede the microphone to them, apologized for the failure of security to stop them from getting in.


Latin American leader condemns antisemitism, decries Hezbollah
The Organization of American States will adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism, the group’s head said.

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro’s announcement Tuesday in Washington makes him the first Latin American leader to do so.

He also called Hezbollah “a terrorist organization” as he accepted the Champion of Democracy Award from the American Jewish Committee on the last day of its annual Global Forum.

The IHRA working definition offers a comprehensive description of antisemitism in its various forms, including hatred and discrimination against Jews, Holocaust denial and, sometimes controversially, the way antisemitism relates to the ways criticism of Israel is expressed.

“The international community has a responsibility to counter antisemitism and xenophobia,” Almagro said, adding: “There is absolutely no excuse for inaction or denial.”

He also denounced Iran and Hezbollah, noting that they have a solid base of operations in South America,” and have found “fertile ground to operate in Cuba and Venezuela.”
Report: US won’t train new Turkish F-35 pilots due to S-400 deal with Russia
The US has decided not to accept further Turkish pilots for training on F-35 figher jets due to Ankara’s move to acquire advanced Russian air defense systems, according to a report Friday.

Unnamed US sources told Reuters that a decision had not yet been made to halt the work of six Turkish pilots and 20 ground personnel currently in the US for training, though that, too, was a very real possibility.

Ankara’s plan to buy the Russian S-400 system has been a major source of contention between NATO allies Turkey and the United States, which has threatened sanctions.

Last week, a top Pentagon official said the consequences would be “devastating” for Turkey’s joint F-35 fighter program and its cooperation with NATO if the country goes ahead with plans to buy the Russian missile defense system.

Kathryn Wheelbarger, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, said Ankara’s planned purchase of the S-400 would damage Turkey’s ability to work with the Western alliance, and force Washington to hit the country with sanctions.

“Let’s be clear. The S-400 is a Russian system designed to shoot down an aircraft like the F-35, and it is inconceivable to imagine Russia not taking advantage of that collection opportunity.”
Suspects in Charlie Hebdo, Hyper Cacher terror attacks to go on trial in France
Suspects linked to the deadly jihadist attacks that struck the Paris region in January 2015, killing 17 people over a three-day period, will stand trial from April to July next year, a legal source said on Friday.

A special Paris criminal court will hear the case against 14 people accused of helping the attackers, providing them with logistical support and the weapons to carry out the attacks.

The victims included 12 people killed at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo by Cherif Kouachi and his brother Said on January 7, 2015. They targeted the paper for its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Over the following two days the third gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, killed a policewoman in the Montrouge suburb south of Paris where authorities think he may have initially been targeting a nearby Jewish school.

He then killed four people at Hyper Cacher, a kosher supermarket during a hostage standoff with police.

All three gunmen were killed by police.
Terrorist attacks on Israelis tripled in May
Terrorist attacks against Israelis more than tripled in May, which was the deadliest month in almost two years.

The increase to 449 incidents in May over April’s 126 incidents owes to the launching of hundreds of rockets last month from Gaza into Israel. The rockets killed four people and wounded eight out of the 10 wounded in terrorist attacks in May.

The remaining two were stabbed in Jerusalem, the Israel Security Agency (Shabak) said in its monthly report for May published earlier this week.

Terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria, meanwhile, decreased by 43 percent, from 88 in April to 50 last month.
'PA can't keep blaming everyone else for its economic failure'
U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt on Wednesday leveled harsh criticism at the Palestinian Authority, which he said should stop blaming external forces for its economic failure.

Commenting on an interview Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh gave The New York Times, in which he warned that the Ramallah administration was on the brink of collapse, Greenblatt tweeted, “PM Shtayyeh is wrong, the PA isn’t ‘in a collapsing situation,’ the PA caused the situation. Time for the PA to step-up & take responsibility for their people & the economy. The PA can’t continue to blame the U.S. & everyone else for a situation they caused.”

He further lambasted PA President Mahmoud Abbas for prioritizing terrorists’ stipends and salary hikes for PA ministers over the welfare of the Palestinian people.

The PA routinely spends hundreds of millions of dollars on payments to terrorists imprisoned in Israel and to the families of terrorists killed while carrying out attacks against Israel. In 2017, for example, Ramallah spent $358 million on payments to terrorists and their families. The figure represents 7% of the PA’s total budget for 2017 and about 20% of the foreign aid it receives.

In July 2018, the Israeli government passed a law deducting terrorists’ salaries from taxes Israel collects on behalf of the PA.
Hebrew U. prof. emeritus calls to boycott Physics Olympiad in Israel
Some 20 scientists, including an Israeli professor, wrote an open letter to the organizers of the 2019 International Physics Olympiad (IPhO) against holding its July competition in Israel.

The Israeli signatory is Emmanuel Dror Farjoun, a professor emeritus of the Einstein Institute of Mathematics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Though he no longer actively works on the campus, his author page and contact information continue to appear on the university's website.

“The Hebrew University of Jerusalem has lecturers from all sides of the political divide,” the university’s international media director, Tali Aronsky, told The Jerusalem Post. “We maintain a respectful, academic environment on our campuses and do not police statements made outside the classroom.

“In this particular case, Professor Farjoun is a retired professor and no longer works at the University,” Aronsky continued.

The open letter is being hosted on the official website of the BDS movement and was disseminated to the media. The IPhO is the premier international physics competition for high school students that includes competitors from some 80 countries.

The letter protests holding the contest in Israel due to what it describes as Israel’s denial of Palestinian human rights, including the right to education.
Pope welcomes Israeli, Jordanian, Palestinian bird experts
Israeli, Jordanian, Palestinian and Swiss bird experts recently traveled to the Vatican to discuss their successful cross-border project using barn owls for biological pest control.

The project eliminates the use of toxic pesticides in agriculture and has promoted cooperation among Jewish and Muslim farmers.

“The meeting with Pope Francis was an extraordinary experience,” reported Tel Aviv University Prof. Yossi Leshem, the Israeli ornithologist who spearheaded the project in 1983 at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, with the first installment of 14 nesting boxes.

“The Pope moved us with the simplicity of his manners, his informal communication, his intelligence, and his tremendous excitement for the protection of biodiversity and his interest in the protection of Earth, which he characterize as God’s creation and the duty of every believer to protect and save from extinction.”

In 2002, Leshem expanded the barn-owl project to farms in nearby Jordan and Palestinian Authority territories. It became a national initiative in 2008 in cooperation with the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel and the governmental ministries of Agriculture, Environmental Protection and Regional Cooperation.

In 2017, the barn-owl project spread to Cyprus and Greece as part of an official trilateral agreement. Today, approximately 4,500 nesting boxes are installed altogether.

Joining Leshem and Roulin on the 2018 Swiss tour were Jordanian Gen. Mansour Abu Rashid, chairman of the Amman Center for Peace and Development; and a Palestinian representative who prefers not to be identified.

GAO Report: Evaluating Palestinian Authority Textbooks Used in U.S.-Funded UNRWA Schools
The U.S. government funded $243 million for education assistance in the West Bank and Gaza for fiscal years 2015 through 2017. UNRWA purchased English language textbooks used in UNRWA schools with funds that consist of contributions from donor countries, including the U.S.

To address content deemed as not aligned with UN values, UNRWA created complementary teaching materials, such as alternate photos and examples, to use with the textbooks in UNRWA schools.

However, UNRWA did not train teachers or distribute the complementary teaching materials to classrooms. As a result, these materials were not used in UNRWA classrooms.

The annual appropriations acts for fiscal years 2015 through 2017 require the State Department to report to Congress on several topics, including steps UNRWA has taken to ensure that the content of all educational materials taught in UNRWA schools is consistent with the values of human rights, dignity, and tolerance, and do not induce incitement.
IDF foils attempt to smuggle rocket manufacturing materials to Gaza- Watch
The IDF thwarted an attempt to smuggle materials, meant for manufacturing rockets, into the Gaza Strip in early May, The army released for publication Friday morning.

Two Palestinian vessels entered the forbidden area in the southern Gaza Strip on May 11, in violation of the security regulations and the armistice directives. The navy seized the vessels and the four suspects on them were transferred to interrogation of security forces.

The Shin Bet investigation revealed that the suspects were on their way from the Gaza Strip to the Sinai coast. From Egypt they intended to smuggle 24 barrels of fiberglass into the Strip, used by Hamas to manufacture missiles.

The suspects were accused of being associated with and attempting to aid Hamas; planning to carry our terror related killings; and aiding terror organizations.

"We set clear boundaries in the maritime sphere of the Gaza Strip," Colonel Yuval Ayalon, Commander of the Southern Marine Division said.

"Borders that on the one hand allow fishermen to make a living, while at the same time attempt to destroy the attempts of terror organizations that threaten to harm Israel by sea. Dedicated and professional soldiers and commanders are working day and night to maintain Israel's security in its maritime borders, and so did the fighters of Division 916, who combined with the authorities and intelligence services, thwart a dangerous smuggling attempt into the Gaza Strip."




America Must Not Repeat the Mistake of Letting Islamic State Rebound from an Incomplete Defeat
After over four years of fighting, the U.S. and its allies have finally deprived Islamic State (IS) of its territorial base in Syria and Iraq. But the presence of IS offshoots throughout Africa and Asia, and the group’s ability to carry out terrorist attacks—for instance the Easter bombings in Sri Lanka—show that it is far from defeated. Bill Roggio urges Washington to break its habit of prematurely declaring victory and precipitously withdrawing, but instead to press its advantage:

Islamic State’s predecessor, the Islamic State of Iraq, which was really a front for al-Qaeda in Iraq, suffered a major defeat during the U.S. surge from 2006 to 2010. The Islamic State of Iraq controlled vast areas of the country prior to the surge; [it] responded [to its defeat] by going to ground and husbanding its forces. By early 2012, the group was back launching vicious attacks against Iraqi security forces, a prelude to Islamic State’s rampage in 2014. This same cycle has been seen in other theaters against jihadist enemies. . . .

Conditions in Iraq and Syria are ripe for this pattern to repeat itself. [The group’s head], Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and many key leaders remain alive. Thousands if not tens of thousands of IS soldiers are at the ready. The Syrian and Iraqi regimes are ill-equipped to deal with the long-term threat. [Moreover], IS is not the only threat that would be buttressed by a [premature] American withdrawal. . . . Al-Qaeda, which initiated the war on 9/11, has not been “decimated” and is not “on the path to defeat” as President Obama boasted years ago. . . .

[A] lack of commitment by the U.S. will also be taken as a sign of encouragement for state sponsors of terrorism, particularly Pakistan and Iran. Pakistan is arguably responsible for the deaths of more than 2,000 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Without Pakistan’s support of the Taliban, it would not be able to maintain a viable insurgency. Iran has paid no price for backing Shiite militias in Iraq, which are responsible for the deaths of more than 600 U.S. soldiers. Disengagement [from Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan] will be seen as a green light to use terrorism as a tool of statecraft.

The defeat of IS in Iraq and Syria is a welcome and necessary development in the war, and it was long overdue. But it was merely one battle in this long war. These jihadists remain committed to their cause, despite long odds against them. There is no question that the West possesses the resources and talent to defeat such an enemy. Does it have the will?
MEMRI: Hizbullah Leader Hassan Nasrallah: U.S. War With Iran Would Ignite The Region, U.S. Forces And Interests Would Be Annihilated; The Precision Missiles In Lebanon Can Change The Region's Balance Of Power
Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech he delivered on May 31, 2019 in honor of Quds Day that Trump and his administration are fully aware that a war against Iran would ignite the entire region, and he threatened that Israel and the Saud clan would be the first to "pay the price" because they had "plotted and schemed." He said that the only thing preventing an American war with Iran is the human and material loss that the U.S. would sustain. Nasrallah went on to say that Lebanon has enough precision missiles to change the regional balance of power and that, while it does not currently have any factories for the production of precision missiles, it has the right and scientific capabilities to produce them. He added that Lebanon will build such factories and sell the missiles internationally if the Americans insist on negotiations regarding the possession of precision missiles. At several points throughout his speech, Nasrallah's audience cheered: "We respond to your call, oh Nasrallah!" The speech aired on Al-Manar TV (Lebanon).

"War Against Iran Means That The Entire Region Would Go Up In Flames"

Hassan Nasrallah: "Let the world hear me well: Mr. Trump, his administration, and his intelligence agencies know full well that a war against Iran would not be limited to Iran alone. War against Iran means that the entire region would go up in flames."

Crowd: "We respond to your call, oh Nasrallah! We respond to your call, oh Nasrallah! We respond to your call, oh Nasrallah! We respond to your call, oh Nasrallah! We respond to your call, oh Nasrallah! We respond to your call, oh Nasrallah!"

Hassan Nasrallah: "The entire region will go up in flames. All the American forces and interests in the region would be annihilated. All those who collaborated and conspired would pay the price – first and foremost Israel and the Saud clan."
MEMRI: Lebanese Writers: Hizbullah Is Oppressing South Lebanon Residents – And They Are Subjected To Increasing Islamization
The Lebanese daily Al-Mudun and the Shi'ite Janoubia.com website, both known to be anti-Hizbullah, published articles bemoaning the situation in South Lebanon under Hizbullah rule. The articles criticized Hizbullah's suppression of free expression, leisure and political activity, and more, against which the residents are unwilling to protest for fear that they will be harmed.

The articles also highlighted the continuing Islamization of the region, as manifested in Hizbullah's banning of alcohol sales, of secular New Year's celebrations, and of parties, on pretexts such as the death of a martyr in some village or other or bereavement for Iranians killed in an earthquake in Iran. Also noted was the marked proliferation of loudspeakers through which Shi'ite prayers were regularly piped.

The following are translated excerpts of the two articles:
Southern Lebanon Under Hizbullah: No Freedom For Initiative Or Production – Only Factories Churning Out Fighters And Wars, Universities Teaching Religion And Accusations Of Treason

Shi'ite journalist and author Muhammad Barakat wrote on Janoubia.com that those who pride themselves for liberating South Lebanon from Israelin May 2000 and have marked the anniversary of this event ever since, have not liberated the region's residents at all. Instead, he wrote, they have launched a drive for control, oppression and religious coercion. He added:

"When we said that all Lebanese must oppose the oppression of the residents of South Lebanon... everyone leaned towards maintaining their relations with Hizbullah, or refrained from conflict – as this oppression expanded and spread from region to region... What is unfortunate is that everyone – the Lebanese, the parties, and the Arabs – clung to their positions.
Former Obama Officials Reportedly Still Coaching Iran
Anchor Michelle Makori says that as the Trump team is hoping to create a unified front against the Iranian regime, there continues to be evidence that some Congressional Democrats and former Obama administration officials are counseling the Iranian government and even coaching them on how to fend off Trump administration pressure. The topic is debated by the Director of the Middle East Forum Gregg Roman and Democratic Strategist Spencer Critchley.






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